Cahill, Drogba, Torres, Dempsey. Wait, Dempsey?

Remember when I told you to keep paying attention to U.S. soccer in between World Cups? Well, if you’re paying attention to the English Premier League right now, you might notice Clint Dempsey’s name popping up among some pretty prestigious strikers.

You might remember Dempsey from the 2010 World Cup as the guy who put one by a brick-handed English goalie, or just as the guy who took more bumps, bruises, and bloody noses than any Yank since De Rossi elbowed McBride.

Now, the MNT Blog notes that Dempsey is among the top 10 scorers in the EPL so far this season, tied at nine goals with the likes of Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres.

Paying attention to U.S. soccer yet?

Five ways you can keep supporting USA soccer

Congratulations to the millions of American sports fans who started paying attention to the United States men’s soccer team over the last few weeks at the World Cup!

No, really, I’m not being sarcastic this time — you’ve been awesome. Tweeting about the team’s chances, the watershed draw against England, the stunning way they won the group, and then the heartbreaking loss to Ghana, when the heart-attack inducing boys in red, white, and blue simply didn’t have the legs or the gas left in the proverbial tank to make one more comeback.

Maybe you even went to a bar, or watched some of these games with friends and family, or got your kids excited about the sport. Extra points if you did! (My three-year-old now asks “Did Dempsey fall down?” every time I yell his name. More extra points if you understand why that’s especially funny!)

So here’s the thing: I know from experience that it’s VERY EASY to COMPLETELY FORGET this sport exists (outside of video games, naturally) for the next four years.

Don’t.

Seriously.

If you’d like to see the team win next time, there are a whole mess of ways you can help.

Get excited and stay excited about the prospect of this country actually excelling at the sport the rest of the world plays.

Start here:

  1. Follow the #USMNT hashtag on Twitter: OK, this is just too easy. #USMNT stands for United States Men’s National Team, and that’s where you’ll find the hardcore supporters, organizations, bloggers, and fans. That hashtag will let you know when the team is playing, how players are developing, and lead you to great blogs and other folks on Twitter to follow. This is simple, just go ahead and save the search in your favorite Twitter machine now. I’ll wait here…
  2. Subscribe to a few US-heavy soccer blogs: Again, pretty easy, you know how this works. I recommend The Shin Guardian, the official US Soccer blog, and The Yanks Are Coming. You’ll find more from there, and from the Twitter hashtag.
  3. Buy yourself a t-shirt: Also remarkably simple to do, and you get a fine piece of clothing that comes in handy on July 4th, too. Or at your kid’s soccer games. I’m partial to this one, a replica of the team’s current throwback-ish away jersey.
  4. Go to a professional soccer game: Sounds crazy, right? I mean, how are you going to get to England or Spain or Italy to see a professional soccer game? But wait, wait, we have our very own pro soccer league these days, and it’s come a long way from the days of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Not only is the MLS a respectable soccer league with folks like Landon Donovan, David Beckham, and Thierry Henry making appearances, but it’s also likely that there’s a team near your town. I know it’s time for me to start supporting DC United, for one, but you’ll find teams in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, LA, Boston, and even Kansas City, San Jose (again), and Columbus. Support your local team, cheer them on, and in the process, you’ll be putting your money where your mouth is, helping develop American talent for the national team. Bonus round: If you’re anywhere near the NY/NJ metro area, you can catch the U.S. national team, featuring a whole bunch of the guys you’ve been watching on TV the last two weeks, take on BRAZIL in a friendly exhibition, on August 10 at the New Meadowlands. Protip: If you’re thinking of going, check prices with fan clubs like Sam’s Army (official-ish, conventional, family-friendly) and the American Outlaws (young, fun, raucous) before throwing money at Ticketmaster.
  5. Play more soccer: Want to learn about the game, get excited, and stay excited? Jump in. If your kids are excited, get them into a fall league (or even a week-long summer camp). If you’re excited, search for local indoor leagues, or if you live in some major metro full of hipsters, you might find a cool co-ed outdoor league for adults. These things are everywhere, and players of a wide variety of skill levels appear to be welcome.

Wabbit season, duck season, conference season, soccer season

I missed Vloggercon and Bloggercon. Gnomedex was too far away. The World Cup – also a bit of distance to cover (Yeah, so we were in Italy for most of it, but who’s counting.). Okay, that wasn’t a conference, and I did manage to watch quite a bit of it, including the final (Forza Azzurri!).

Here’s the off-topic riff on the final: It was really fun to sit at the pub and watch a bunch of Americans who had been pulled onto the root-for-France train by the easy Zidane-the-hero story get the air knocked out of them by an Italian team with a story that’s probably more compelling, but much harder to tell. The biggest Italian star, Francesco Totti, was invisible for most of the tournament, assuming you weren’t reading an Italian newspaper. Something like 10 Italians scored their 12 goals. Plus there’s the backdrop of the match-fixing scandal at home, but maybe American eyes glaze over at the phrase “could be relegated to Serie B,” so that was mostly just alluded to as a possible distraction.

Here’s the end of the rant: Zidane was silenced, even with chances in front of the Italian goal, and then completely tarnished the happy little legacy he had built himself with an as-yet inexplicable head butt to the chest of Materazzi, who, incidentally, did manage to put the ball in goal today without needing a penalty kick to do it. What was Zidane thinking? That he’s going to leave that head butt as his defining last touch on the soccer world? Not a bright move. Italy wins, breaks the penalty kick spell, for what that’s worth, and the referees have four years to think about what they’ve done this month.

Back on topic: There are at least a few useful gatherings coming up in the Bay Area.

  • SJPizzacast – July 27th in San Jose – Bloggers, podcasters, students, professionals, amateurs, faculty, freaks, geeks, pizza, and beer(?).
  • BlogHer – July 28th and 29th in San Jose – In a little over a year, BlogHer has gone from concept to conference to community, and now the second conference promises to be a by-women, of-women, for-everyone event. Here’s Jay Rosen’s notes on last year’s event. Bonus fact: co-founder Elisa Camahort is an SJSU alumna.
  • The AEJMC convention – August 2nd-5th in San Francisco – All the best in Journalism & Mass Communications research. Wednesday looks like lots of fun for me.
  • WordCamp – August 5th in San Francisco – A one-day free conference for WordPress users and developers to party together. WordPress is the free, open-source software that runs this here blog.

So, um, stop hitting refresh on that ESPN Gamecast page. It’s over. Italy won. You can go back to ignoring soccer for four years. (Note to self: get some sort of expensive cable package that involves full coverage of the Italian, Spanish, and English leagues.) (Ed. note: It’s not going to happen.)